John spoke to entertainer and funny man Jim Davidson about life, laughs and memories

Back in 1976, millions were talking about a young comic called Jim Davidson.
He burst on to a television show called New Faces, which was the country’s favourite talent show. His ‘nick nick’ jokes about coppers made him an instant success. Amazingly, he only came second to Nookie Bear in the grand final but went on to become a huge star – and he’s still filling theatres today.
I first met him on October 9th, 1976 when he was the cabaret act at the Saturday night dinner dance at Ryde’s Ponda Rosa roadhouse. Jim has always suffered from pre-show nerves and that night he was worried whether the diners would like him. He went down a storm. He only got £40 for the gig, because it was all signed up before his New Faces success – and there was not one rude joke. Dave Gurd, the Island’s most famous policeman at that time, had agreed to appear in a mock arrest picture with Jim for the IW Weekly Post. Sadly, the chief superintendent would not allow it.
Can you still remember that Ponda Rosa night?
I can actually. There were so many dinner dance venues in those days. I also remember I only got that £40. The first time I ever came to the Island was on my first school trip. How the hotel put up with all us kids from Charlton I’ll never know. I remember fishing for crabs and playing five-a-side football for a team we called Celsic. I’m actually coming back to the Island on October 12th to appear at Medina Theatre, Newport, with my new show, The People Fight Back.
Do you think you’ve had a controversial life?
It’s only been controversial for those who want to make it controversial. Like people who want to make political statements out of things and those who want political correctness. There is the old saying that you have to be there. Some things you read are normally not in the way it’s been said. People do say I’m controversial and have said certain things but I sleep well.
Like millions of others, I was so pleased when all your charges were dropped in the wake of the Savile scandal. How did you cope with something like that?
I had a year of hell and worked very closely with my lawyers to prove to the police that it was nothing to do with me. To this day I don’t know why the allegations were made. Some others charged are still very bitter but I am not.
Were you surprised to win Celebrity Big Brother?
The funny thing is John, I got arrested on the way to the Big Brother house. So, I was on bail for a year and then I went in again and won it. It was as if the public were thinking we don’t believe any of this Jim and here’s a present for you. It was fine other than having to put up with people like Linda Nolan and a few other nutters. Yes, I won against all the odds for just being me.
It’s been an amazing career because you’ve enjoyed huge success as both a family entertainer and dirty comic. How did this happen?
Well I’ve always been a dirty comic and would not do a clean show when asked to. The only exceptions being when I did the Generation Game for seven years and Big Break for 11 years. I loved that period when I was just a clown. I think that with those huge Saturday night shows the BBC wondered just why I was there. I didn’t fit into their mould really. They thought I was alright but had got too big for my boots doing the Generation Game and that was the end of that. They actually gave me a million quid to go away. I had one series of each to do but they told me not to bother but to keep the money.
You are renowned for the number of troop shows you have done all around the world. Did you enjoy all those?
I did them because no-one else would. All the new university boy comics didn’t want to do them. They thought it was a political move and did not want to entertain our troops. It was sad really. I went to the Falkland’s so many times that in the end they said they would sooner have the Argentinians back!
Do you have any regrets in life?
I would like to have saved more money but I had all those judges deciding I had to give my money away. I would’ve liked to have been a nicer person but you can only deal the cards you have been given. I would’ve liked to have spent more time with friends but circumstances change. On stage I am now working the best I’ve ever been.
John, can I just say it’s always been a pleasure to talk to you for 40 years or more.
Jim has had his critics over the years but he’s a great professional and has done so much for charity. He also founded Care After Combat. Off stage he’s overcome several major personal problems which has to be admired.

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